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Role of Hypocrisy in Tartuffe

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Characters in any story always carry certain traits different from each other. The traits dictate the person they play in the story and his role in developing the story. In Tartuffe, there are many complex characters holding awful traits. The play holds characters of hypocrisy, deceitfulness, self-centeredness and greed. The characteristics make the play pronounce in every character including Dorine, Mariane, Valere and Orgon. This paper looks into these characters and their role in the play featuring hypocrisy as it reveals in each character. It also gets into detail revealing the greed in Tartuffe and featuring him as the bad person who does not mind of any one else other than himself and uses Orgon to benefit himself.

In the story, Dorine is an outspoken character who is wise to note Tartuffe’s motives. However, her values lie beyond perception even if she interrupts people causing distress. It is evident from the story that she cares about other people around her and minds the dilemmas that face them (Henry). A good example is her speech to Orgon, where she narrates about forced marriages where women marry men who they do not love, he says, “The danger to the virtue of a girl is extreme when she forcefully weds unwelcome mate; her goals of living in modesty rests on the man forced into her.” This shows that Dorine is strong, passionate, caring, and independent (Richard 17-56).

Mariane is a character who comes from a sophisticated family having a reserved and timid character (Jean). She lives in a society where everything is setup already for her therefore she has does not have a choice that is why she even cannot speak for herself, she says, “I've do not have compassion left for this drivel, When the chips are once down, you obviously shrivel.”

Orgon is a naive character in this story. Tartuffe blinds him and falls to whatever he wants done (Moliere). It is as if a spell has been cast over Orgon making him a victim of worship. Many of his family members reveal the deceit of Tartuffe but he still cannot comprehend the whole thing. A quote to Orgon reads, “Do you see no real difference between devout pretense and devoutness? Do you really want them given the selfsame place?” what he replies shows how stupid and not understanding he is because he says, “He guides me well in new directions and on new paths and liberates my soul completely from every tie (Henry). My brother, wife, children, mother, could die, but I could see it without any pain.” On the other hand, Valere is a smart character, who does not like people who try to take advantage of him (Richard 17-56).

It does not surprise that Tartuffe’s character symbolizes hypocrisy. Throughout the play, Orgon falls for Tartuffe’s traps and gives in to his deceits. In the play Tartuffe tells him “No, you must see her; I do not agree with them all (Moliere). Driving them crazy is what I aim for and it is my delight. For sure, you shall be with her and no man can stop you. I do not want to have any other heir besides you; and legally, my intention is to until you inherit my estate. You are a true friend and further to that my son-in-law-to-be. You are dearer than my own son or my wife (Act 3, Scene 7, and Lines 1172-1180)”.

It is clear from Tartuffe’s big shows at the local church and the way he denounces everybody who he thinks as not being holy that Tartuffe's uses deception as the means of achieving what he wants. His character depicts a self-centered man who has no apathy for anybody around him (Jean). What he cares for is only his own needs and he vows to do anything just to make sure that he satisfies himself. He even does not care that his zeal to satisfy himself leads to the causes problems when Madam Pernelle suffers a fever. The story notes that, “Then she lost her appetite, and therefore did not eat a thing for the whole night. She had a headache that was too much to bear”| it continues, “Piously, while she was watching, Tartuffe ate a brace of partridge, then enjoyed a half leg of mutton very greedily.” (Act 1, Scene 4, Lines 236-240; Richard 17-56).

Tartuffe did not care satisfying his own needs only to see Orgon kick his son Damis out of their house. This is selfish enough to make sure that he uses Orgon to delight his plans and see him go against his family. From the story a quote from one of the Orgon’s family members narrates, “Supposedly Damis is to blame and should pay for falsely slandering your name, shouldn't a genuine Christian pardon such an offense and purpose to rid his heart of any malevolence? For all what you quarrel for, should you do what you supposedly have done and see your own son denied a father's roof? I repeat it once more that what you are doing seems scandalous and not acceptable to everyone; if you are upright enough, take my advice and work for peace, stop condemning Damis.” (Act 4, Scene 1, Lines 1191-1200).

Greed is what leads Tartuffe in all his motives and acts. Even when he was at his lowest, he still had the greed in him and could not stop tormenting Orgon with his calculated moves. His aim was to take everything from Orgon and make sure he owned nothing including his family. He says, “You have to leave, in spite of your tone, this house belongs to me and I have to make it known. I will show you that your intentions to cause me pain are in vain and full of low tricks, and you will realize that insulting me is the least of my worries (Moliere). Trust me, I can expose as well as punish lies, avenge an offense and bring anyone down incase we part ways.” (Act 4, Scene 8, Lines 1558-1564). From this greed, everything that unravels from the story is a true indication of his acts justifying that he dearly got what he deserved in the end.

The reason why Tartuffe succeeds in fooling Orgon and Madam Pernelle is inscribed to his character as portrayed in the story. His image in the story portrays as, loving, sanctimonious, and very caring person (Jean). In reality, Tartuffe is an incarnated devil who cares not a thing for anyone else than himself (Henry). Orgon falls for his gimmicks and describes him in a statement, “I tell you, Tartuffe is heaven sent, who has come right when in need him and he is here to make you repent, to salvage yourself, listen to him, whatever he reproves is right and deserves reproof.” (Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 147-150). In no doubt, Tartuffe has a convincing power, as he is able to fool Orgon and use his to achieve his greedy plans (Richard 17-56).

Tartuffe takes advantage of the naivety in Orgon. He comes in and blind Orgon with everything in his disposal. He does everything to please Orgon and even compromises his happiness just to win the Orgon’s soul over and make a good catch later. He knows that Orgon’s perception of the world is necessary because he can simply embrace Tartuffe and his works. After sometime, Orgon tells him secrets about him and his family and lets Tartuffe guide his acts, while ruling his conscience. Orgon gives Tartuffe honor and the largest portions of every favor while denying his family most of these favors. To make the matters worse, he even offers him his money that he gets from his family. The conflict in the story is between Orgon and the friends and family members around him. This people cannot understand why Orgon worships a hypocrite who is just taking advantage of him in all his deeds and actions. A quote from the story narrates, “since he has entrusted Tartuffe as his favorite and a hero, he has no sanity, he calls Tartuffe his brother, purposes to hold him above everyone, including his own family” (Act 1, Scene 2, Lines183-186).

Even though Orgon finally faces the truth, Tartuffe is determined never to let go. He is an enthusiastic man and driven by his greed.  The climax of the play is a scene where Orgon confronts Tartuffe after he faces him flirt with his wife (Henry). The moment of reality dawns on him as he conceptualizes his character (Richard 17-56). Orgon is so disappointed and orders Tartuffe out of his house wishing never see him again (Moliere). Orgon says, “There is not a thing to listen to anymore, and I do not want to hear a thing from you. Just get out of my house right now and disappear forever” (Act 4, Scene7, Line 1556). This does not stop Tartuffe because he uses his last kicks to get equal with Orgon. He tries to take everything from Orgon and he goes to the king to spoil Orgon’s name but luckily for him that the king knew Orgon quit well and denied him the chance (Moliere).

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